The presidential election is looming closer with each day. Many people have been contemplating about who they should vote for. There is a ton of information about what each presidential campaign is focusing on, but what policies have the presidential candidates supported during their time in office in the past? Do knowing these policies help decide your vote this coming November?


Firstly, Reuters offers an informative graphic about the stances that the presidential candidates have. Some of the biggest points the candidates are split upon, but not all, are: foreign policy, climate change, economic policy, the possibility of reforming the police system and the handling of the novel COVID-19 pandemic.

The trend generally shows that presidential candidate Trump is more conservative on these topics, Timothy Kneeland, professor of History and Political Science at Nazareth College, described. He wants to protect industries from certain regulations, and has tendencies toward trickle down economics. Trump wishes to put America first in terms of international relations and desires to restart the economy during the novel COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden, on the other hand, reflects much of the Democratic Party in terms of his policies. He has expressed his desires to be more involved with international affairs, further research alternatives to combat climate change and build a national test and trace program to combat COVID-19.

“President Trump is more of a ‘big picture president,’ and tends to paint broad strokes leading the nation,” Gerald Gamm, professor of Political Science and History at the University of Rochester, said.

This is similar in his stances on national policy. President Trump generally adopts a very isolationist mindset in placing America first, and promoted nationalistic policies throughout his time as president, as well as currently in his re-election campaign.

Biden has been known to shift on his former stances. In the past, when Biden was the senator of Delaware from 1973 onward, he was much more reserved on his policies. During this presidential campaign, however, his stances on past topics have become more progressive. During Roe v. Wade decisions, he had expressed his disapproval of abortion procedures and even voted to reverse the decision in his support to a constitutional amendment. This has since changed to cautioning a limit to abortions later in pregnancy.

“[Biden’s] past policies do not match up with his current ones, but it’s certainly in line with the modifications he’s had to make in a year of more progressive democrats,” said Kneeland.

Furthermore, it’s a bit difficult to uncover what Biden explicitly helped pass during his time as Vice President. Most of his role during his time in the Obama administration was being sent in place of the president when the president was unable to go to certain events. Examples of this can be seen when Biden was sent to negotiate with the Republican Party for bills such as the economic stimulus bill.

In spite of information we might not know of the presidential candidates, seeing how they interact with the public might help fill in some gaps when we decide who to vote for.

With the People

Both presidential candidates have a certain charisma to them. Holding a high position in government requires a lot of that in a person. However, both presidential candidates use their charisma differently.

Kneeland discussed Biden's trait of being a glad-hander.

“A glad-hander is someone who comes into the room all smiles. [They] come right up to you and shake your hand and pat you on the back,” said Kneeland.

Presidential candidate Biden is proactive —  the type of person to approach you first. Trump on the other hand is reserved, and the kind of person who will wait for you to approach him before talking with you.

Even more, the way both candidates conduct themselves during their speeches and how that conduct is received by the public differs as well. For Biden, there are a lot of canned speeches -- speeches that are written and recorded beforehand. He usually speaks in small gatherings, if there is a gathering at all, during this time where social distancing is important. However, Biden is also reactionary, and can lose his temper quickly. For some of his followers, it’s one of his lesser qualities.

Trump on the other hand, tends to host very lively speeches. As seen from the Republic National Conference hosted on Aug. 24 to Aug. 27, 2020, it was on the standard of a sports game, noted Kneeland. Trump allows himself to show his anger and is often reactionary himself, but his audience tend to enjoy his reactions, and sees it as him being someone who is real with the public.

It pegs the question where the middle stands between two polarized candidates.


There are two basic questions voters should ask themselves when ultimately deciding on a candidate to support, both Gamm and Kneeland explained.

“Which candidate maintains the basic institutions of our democracy? ... Where do [you] stand?” asked Gamm.

“Which candidate maintains the basic institutions of our democracy? … Where do [you] stand?”

For some voters, some of them have already decided as soon as the candidates were nominated. For people still deciding, there are still a lot of sources available that may help decide your choice. News sources like The New York Times offers sources on their sites regarding updates on the election in terms of news headlines. However, popular publications are prone to bias; RealClear Politics is another source to fact check potentially biased publications.

“All campaigns are retrospective. Are you better off now than four years ago?” said Kneeland. “What do you think will happen with either candidate as president?”

For people who want to know more in-depth information about the money that goes into politics, from Political Action Committees, to some donors to presidential campaigns, OpenSecrets is a resource in helping people understand the economic aspects of political races.

Kneeland ultimately said, “This will be one of the most interesting elections of our time ... be informed.”

“This will be one of the most interesting elections of our time ... be informed.”


Biden: Helped pass the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act in 1994.

Biden: Introduced and continued to support Violence Against Women Act in 1990.

Biden: Helped Obama administration pass several acts to help resolve economic problems during recession and alleviate debt from Jan. 2009 to Jan. 2017.

Biden: Launched Biden Foundation on Feb. 1, 2017 to further his work in foreign policy, his cancer initiative, community colleges and military families, protecting children, equality, ending violence against women and strengthening the middle class.

Biden: Was accused of multiple counts of inappropriate touching in April 2019.

Biden: Vowed to be more respectful of people’s personal space in April 2019. 

Biden: Publicly apologized to Anita Hill in regards to her testimony against Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court confirmation (1991) on April 26, 2019.

Biden: Proposed possible alternatives on police training; “shoot unarmed people who have knives in the legs” in June 1, 2020.

Trump: Signed travel ban that restricted citizens from a specific list of countries from crossing American borders on Jan. 27, 2017.

Trump: Signed executive order on business regulations to cut number of regulations on American businesses on Jan. 30, 2017.

Trump: Signed Executive Order 13767 to begin building border wall between Southern USA and Mexico.

Trump: Passed a bill that lifts restrictions on coal mining companies that previously regulated them to protect waterways from coal mining waste on Feb. 16, 2017.

Trump: Mueller Report was released and finds possible obstructions by the Trump administration on March 2019.

Trump: Withdrew from Paris Agreement, which focused on climate change and dedicating an effort to learn and address the negative effects of climate change in reducing and regulating pollution in mass production on Nov. 4, 2019.

Trump: Trump’s impeachment began on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of congress on Dec. 18, 2019.

Trump: Supreme Court splits on subpoenas for Trump’s tax returns on July 8, 2020 and proposes to hold trial until after Nov. election.